BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Mansfield Town v Stevenage - Saturday, January 9 2016

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BIG MATCH PREVIEW

Mansfield Town will again look to get their home form kick-started when Stevenage visit on Saturday.

Stags have only won three times at home all season and, although this will be their third home game in a row, they have failed to win the other two, drawing 1-1 with struggling York and losing 3-2 against impressive Accrington Stanley last weekend.

Mansfield v Stevenage games have never ended in a draw as yet in their seven League meetings to date, Stags winning three and Stevenage four.

STAGS TEAM NEWS

Adam Murray has said he would love to bring in a new face before the game – an attacking utility player.

All eyes will be on whether skipper Nicky Hunt is fit enough to return to right back. It’s been a problem position since he limped off the training field with a pulled hamstring in November, missing seven games with Lee Collins and Mitch Rose both filling in with various degrees of success.

The other worry is striker Matt Green who, after scoring his eighth goal of the season on Saturday, was forced to leave the field after struggling to run off a knock from a nasty tackle.

With Adi Yussuf and Chris Beardsley already on the treatment table, Stags will be very short up front if Green misses out.

Stags continue to miss injured left back Mal Benning, who is expected to be another three weeks with his knee injury, but Stags are fine while ever they still have Notts County loanee Blair Adams there. Mansfield have said they would like to make the move permanent, but the change in management at Notts could scupper that hope.

Ryan Tafazolli, who has played well at centre half all season, has been left out on the bench for the last two games with rumours about his future, the player being out of contract this summer.

STEVENAGE TEAM NEWS

Stevenage have considerable injury issues at the moment.

Steven Schumacher (knee), Lee Cox (hamstring), Jerome Okimo (knee), Dave McAllister (knee), Dean Wells (ankle) are all likely to miss out. They’re all first team squad players.

Chris Whelpdale, the club’s top scorer this season, has a groin injury but could feature, but the game may come too early for midfielder Dean Parrett who has a tear in his quadriceps.

Jack Jebb (thigh) could be available. If he is, it’s likely to be on the bench.

Possible Stevenage starting XI

GK: Chris Day

RB: Ronnie Henry (captain)

LB: Connor Ogilvie (on loan from Spurs)

CB: Jamie McCombe

CB: Fraser Franks

LM: Callum McFadzean (on loan from Sheff Utd)

RM: I expect Ben Kennedy to start in place of Rohdell Gordon.

CM: Michael Tonge.

CM: Tom Pett

AM: Charlie Lee

ST: Could be Jamille Matt, but after Armand Gnanduillet scored two against Orient I expect him to start.

KEY BATTLE: Blair Adams v Ben Kennedy

Blair Adams could find his hands full at left back as he is likely to be up again winger Ben Kennedy - a Northern Ireland U18 international, and a product of the club’s academy.

He burst on to the scene last year playing as a forward, and scored twice at Hartlepool.

He’s played more as a winger for Teddy Sheringham this season, and came off the bench (he was recently given a couple of weeks off by the club) to help orchestrate a comeback against Leyton Orient, getting the assist for Boro’s second goal in the 2-2 draw.

STEVENAGE ONE TO WATCH

Connor Ogilvie has been superb since joining on loan from Spurs.

The left-back came back into the side last Saturday following a shoulder injury.

Ogilvie is an attacking full-back, and has a good cross on him.

He’s only 19, but has a superb temperament and is such a calm player under pressure.

His loan deal ends after this weekend’s game, but the club are keen to keep him on.

OPPOSITION MANAGER: TEDDY SHERINGHAM

Graham Westley’s contract wasn’t renewed in the summer, despite a decent return last year of guiding the club to the play-offs.

Sheringham came in and said that his aim was to go one better than last season. It hasn’t happened.

He’s spent much of the first half of the season learning about his players, and things had just started to gel before Christmas.

However, in the club’s last four games they’ve conceded goals in the 85th minute or later three times and it’s cost them a win against Accrington, a draw against Crawley and a win against Orient. It’s becoming a real problem.

Boro have conceded 18 goals in the last 15 minutes of games this season. The style of play is different, less direct, but results haven’t really come yet. And with quite a few of his loan players going back to their parent clubs after this weekend’s game – and with a mounting injury list – the future looks tough.

However, the club is already working to bring in fresh faces.

They are still aiming for the play-offs, but mid-table looks a more likely destination.

STEVENAGE SEASON SO FAR

After a 2-0 home defeat by Notts County on the opening day, it took Stevenage four attempts to secure their first League Two win of the season, beating Hartlepool 2-0.

In September they added only one more win, seeing off current leaders Plymouth 2-1.

Mansfield Town’s 2-0 win there on Tuesday, 29th September was part of a five-game losing streak for the Hertfordshire club, the 2-1 home win over Wycombe on October 17 ending a run of seven games without a win.

By the start of November Stevenage sat 20th in the table with only three wins to their name.

But November finally saw them light some fireworks as they won two and drew two League games and beat League One Gillingham in the FA Cup.

However, December produced just one win from their four League matches and an FA Cup exit at struggling Yeovil Town.

They opened 2016 with a 2-2 home draw with Leyton Orient last weekend that had looked like three points until an injury time equaliser from the O’s denied them..

All the goals came in the final 32 minutes. Jay Simpson put the visitors ahead just past the hour from the spot, but Chesterfield loanee Armand Gnanduillet came on as a substitute and struck twice in six minutes to swing the game in Boro’s favour.

It looked like all three points were Stevenage’s until Simpson struck again in the 92nd minute, finding the top corner from close range.

LAST MEETING

Tuesday, 29th September 2015: Stevenage 0, Mansfield Town 2

After three straight defeats there, Mansfield Town finally chalked up their first ever win at Stevenage this season with a dominant 2-0 victory to move back up into the play-off spots.

Although Brian Jensen did have a crucial save to make early on, Stags bossed the first half and Craig Westcarr, Matt Green and Mal Benning all wasted good chances.

But they took full control after the break with two goals in the first four minutes from Ryan Tafazolli and Jack Thomas and the win never looked in doubt.